I’ll Have One of My People Google It Soon
For all the good the Internet does, it has also become a major source of frustration for everyone. The clutter, negativity, lack of trust, overload of misinformation, and general creepiness because of all the people using your data to track your life make the Web a pain as much as it is a powerful tool.
The Internet has become work – ugly, dirty, hard work. It is unwieldy and impossible to navigate. Digital distractions taunt us at an alarming rate, and it is a fact: You can’t trust anything you find or read on the Web. The anonymity afforded us by the digital veil allows all sorts of creeps, liars, tricksters, and trolls to lurk in every post, article, and promise made by a brand. We now live in what is commonly referred to as a “post-trust society,” and given the exponential rate at which mistrust is spread via the Internet, we’re not going to see things improve anytime in the future. The worse it gets, the more we’ll see a behavioral change in those who can afford to do something about it. The wealthy will demand help to do the work they don’t want to do, and someone will figure out how to serve the wealthy what they want.
Until artificial assistants such as Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant get their acts together, the only thing a wealthy person living in our modern, digitally deceptive world can do with technology, once an amazing and wonderful frontier, that kicks their ass is to hire a human digital assistant. A person. An Internet caddy, a Web valet.
I’ll overwhelm you for a moment with some stats:
- Every single minute, YouTube users upload 400 hours of video.
- The average person sees over 5,000 brand and ad messages a day.
- There are over 4.5 billion Likes thumbed-up every day on Facebook.
- Just in America, we check our phones 8 billion times a day.
- Video pre-roll makes you want to tear your hair out.
- Native? Deceptive wormholes programmed by evil geniuses.
- Pop-ups, even when blocked, pop up.
- Every 60 seconds, 293,000 statuses are updated and 136,000 photos are uploaded (most of them mediocre pictures of puppies, kids, and food).
As if having real puppies, raising kids, and making food weren’t enough work, we need to photograph them and share them so other people have more to distract them on the Web every day.
Every time you go online, you risk losing an hour of your life that you can’t get back. And what’s worse is that hour is filled with lies, deception, and trickery. And that does not sit well with busy, wealthy people who want a faster, more accurate, more trustworthy web experience.
Take a look at this article that presents 40 sites to make travel easier. Forty! Forty sites to sift through – all promising to make travel easier. What a conundrum, what a contradiction, what a conflict of interest. I look at these 40 sites, and I laugh at how each does one of two things: Cut and paste what the other site says. Contradict everything the other sites say.
Now, on top of planning your trip, which is a stressful decision to begin with, you have these “helpful” travel sites peppering you with doubt and fear that you’re making terrible decisions about where to go and where to stay when you get there. You also get a healthy dose of guilt tossed in if you don’t take the time to wade through all of them. Wait…did you see all of them? Are you really sure there is not one more really helpful site or app out there that would really make your trip planning easy? Then you read this article, telling you that not many travel apps are worth downloading.
Crap. Yeah, guilt, stress, fear, doubt, and a huge time suck, just to plan a vacation. Welcome to the Internet in 2017. The Web has made vacationing miserable. It can also ruin cooking, fashion, wedding planning, gardening, and kite making with equal aplomb.
Now imagine having a human assistant to help you on the Web. Someone to Google things for you, handle your social media, filter out things you don’t like, look up the things you do like – someone to make the Web easier to deal with. If you think this is far-fetched, have one of your people do a little research on the subject. And, no, don’t just ask Siri. She’s incompetent.
History tells us that people are generally lazy, and therefore humans invent technologies to make life easier. But when the technology we’ve created becomes a lot of work, we farm it out, especially the wealthy. The wealthy drive change because: They have the money to invest in change. We all want to sell new technologies and create new industries to get some of that wealth in our pockets.
Everyone can cook. Wealthy people have people cook for them. Now we have cooked food delivered to our homes.
Everyone can drive. Wealthy people have people drive for them. Now we have on-demand car services for everyone.
Everyone can shop for clothes. Wealthy people have people shop for them. Now we can all get in-home style consultants online.
Mowing lawns. Cleaning houses. Washing cars. Bathing dogs.
It is a human truth that the more money you have, the more likely it is that you’ll have other people do stuff you don’t like to do. Now, I must note, the definition of wealth is relative. Look at how artificial intelligence and speech recognition have made it possible for someone making minimum wage to still delegate simple tasks to Siri, Alexa, or Cortana.
Think about it. Twelve years ago nobody had a smartphone, but now we’re all so exhausted by the idea of typing in our search for the best falafel near us that we relish the opportunity to speak our commands into our phones.
Now, if you had lots of money and a human assistant who really knew what you liked and didn’t like in a vacation, you could just say, “Find me a magical place for Christmas, something very Whoville, and book a few weeks in a chalet, preferably near a gondola and within walking distance of a town with amazing fondue.” Your assistant would wade through all the junk and deliver your dream vacation itinerary, and you would trust it implicitly. Do that same search yourself on the Internet, and you’ll never get it planned. The Web is just too unwieldy.
If the average person spends eight hours on the Internet every day, I think the average wealthy person would rather seven of those hours are spent by someone else who has the patience and intelligence to cipher through the maelstrom of confusion. The trend took root when apps were introduced. Apps were the first indicators that people would pay money to have someone else make the Internet easier to use. All apps attempt to alleviate some of the online stress we endure, aggregating data, providing shortcuts, promising to minimize effort and maximize success. But now there are so many apps, we spend time online looking at app reviews to determine which app is the best app. There are over 2 million apps in the Apple App Store alone. There are now articles published to review which apps are the most helpful. So, instead of making our life easier, the proliferation of apps has added a few hours of reading app reviews to your list of things you need to do before you buy the app that is going to make your web life easier.
I know, I know – you’re thinking with all the apps and sites that aggregate prices, compare product features, and even calculate retirement needs, no one will actually hire an Internet Caddy™. But remember, these sites and apps are self-serving businesses that are trying to profit from your overwhelmed digital life. They want you confused. Confused people make irrational decisions that may just go their way.
“Wealthy people” are one of the most difficult targets for a brand to reach. Brands that sell luxury goods, travel, and other nice things want a digital relationship with these people because they have money and generally like to spend it on a good life. But as the Internet grows increasingly untrustworthy and time-consuming, this fickle audience will grow increasingly wary and exhausted by their digital life – thus making them even harder to reach. What is a brand to do if it wants to be loved by people of means?
First, stop stalking your target. Everyone knows when a brand is tracking their data trail, showing up in every article, social media site, and web search. The brand is being sold “effectiveness” by the digital strategy and media specialists, but forgets that consumers don’t necessarily appreciate being stalked by a brand. There are negative emotional consequences for brands that stalk their customers.
Second, don’t be a different brand online than you are in real life. It’s funny: That veil of anonymity that allows us to post negative comments on a restaurant review site, after we’ve had a few martinis and which we would never have the gumption to say to the manager’s face, also applies to brands trying to connect with consumers. Bait and switch is so shamelessly bad in a store but perfectly acceptable online. Deceptive headlines used to entice a person to an “article” that turns out to be an ad are not cool. Don’t do it.
A brand would never incessantly tap people on the shoulder as they browse the showroom floor saying, “Hey, I know you like Hugo Boss because you’re wearing Hugo Boss so that means I know something about you, which means you can trust me and talk to me about this Lexus IS. Hey. Hey, I like Hugo Boss too. Hey, we’re alike.” But they are more than willing to do this online. Following, badgering, prodding, stalking, pestering, interrupting: If you wouldn’t do these things in your store, don’t do it online.
Think like the person you want to reach. They don’t want hard sell, fast talk, constant interruptions, or brands as “friends.” Badgering them to like you, follow you, or invite you into their inboxes is just plain rude. Brands need to have manners online if they want respect and admiration from consumers. Don’t let promises of infinitely trackable data, profoundly improved returns on investment and media efficacy, or magic-bullet digital marketing solutions turn your brand into a rude online jerk.
Everyone wants things to be easier. The wealthy will hire subordinates to manage and simplify their digital lives. It’s how humans roll. Brands want to make it easier too. But they can’t take the easy way out to drive sales and site traffic. The hard work of showing restraint in the quest for instant transactional satisfaction, being consistent in fulfilling the brand’s promise, being digitally kind to the busy, overwhelmed people you hope to turn into loyal customers is necessary if you want to be seen as a trusted brand in the untrustworthy Internet landscape.
Chuck started out as an art director in Milwaukee in 1984. In 1999, he joined The Richards Group and pursued writing along the way. His national and international brand experience is pretty diverse: Jeep, Dodge, Alfa Romeo, Harley-Davidson, Patrón Tequila, Zephyr Gin, Pyrat Rum, Ultimat Vodka, The Home Depot, TGI Fridays, Red Lobster, MetroPCS, Casio, Prestone, Grupo Vidanta resorts, Aria Resort & Casino, Atlantis resorts, countless banks, hospitals, etc.